Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Springing From Eternal Love

Continuing my own countdown of favorite ten hymns (as of the end of May), submitted to the survey at Semicolon, we come to the previously unrevealed Number Three.

This hymn did make the top one hundred -- but it was, in fact, at Number Ninety-Nine (and I was pretty shocked to see what came in below it, at Number One Hundred). Since I ranked it third, it would have received at least eight points in the survey (but possibly no more than that, if no one else had it on their list).

I've talked about my fondness for the Exodus story before, so it's not surprising that it shows up in these verses. The opening lines come directly from the third verse of Psalm 87.

Glorious things of thee are spoken,
Zion, city of our God!
God, whose word cannot be broken,
Formed thee for a safe abode.
On the Rock of Ages founded,
What can shake thy sure repose?
With salvation’s walls surrounded,
Thou may’st smile at all thy foes.

See! the streams of living waters,
Springing from eternal love;
Well supply thy sons and daughters,
And all fear of want remove:
Who can faint while such a river
Ever flows their thirst to assuage?
Grace, which like our God, the Giver,
Never fails from age to age.

Round each habitation hovering,
See the cloud and fire appear!
For a glory and a cov’ring
Showing that our God is near.
Thus deriving from our banner
Light by night and shade by day;
Safe they feed upon the manna
Which God gives them when they pray.

Savior, if of Zion’s city,
I through grace a member am,
Let the world deride or pity,
I will glory in thy Name.
Fading is our worldly pleasure,
All is boasted pomp and show;
Solid joys and lasting treasure
All of Zion’s children know.

John Newton, 1779; alt.
Franz Josef Haydn, 1797

This hymn first appeared in the Olney Hymns (1779) of John Newton (and William Cowper). The fourth verse here (which was Newton's fifth) is often left out. The tune originally appeared in an anthem written by Franz Joseph Haydn for the birthday of the Austrian Emperor, and later in Haydn's String Quartet in C (Opus 76 No. 3). Though text and tune are nearly contemporaneous, they were not matched until the 1889 edition of Hymns Ancient and Modern.

They were used together nearly always after that for many years, but in more recent times some hymnals prefer not to use AUSTRIA as many people connect it to the German national anthem used during World War II. Another tune, ABBOT'S LEIGH, was written by British composer Cyril Taylor in 1941 (perhaps because of the German association) and is often used today (you can hear it at the Cyber Hymnal, where they have permission to reproduce it).

One Year Ago: Edward J. Hopkins


Leland Bryant Ross said...

I'd quite forgotten the comment at Semicolon that suggested singing this text to CLEMENTINE or MARINES' HYMN... Actually, if I'm going to sing any real hymn to AUSTRIA, this is the one. I wrote the introductory song of my "comic worship oratorio" Jonah Was a Prophet (Minor) to AUSTRIA, but its "Deutschland ├╝ber alles" reputation is too strong for me to completely blank it out while singing a hymn. So all in all I am an ABBOT'S LEIGH sort of guy.

Not to change the subject, but I was thrilled to see that St. Olaf's is going to be streaming the live feeds from the Hymn Society convention July 12, 13, 15 and 16, as well as archiving them for those of us who can't accomodate the schedule. I quoted Carl Daw's email (which contains the link to St. Olaf's media room) in this post at BaptistLife.com. You don't have to be a member, even.

Yewtree said...

Hello, I saw your comment on the Jesus in Love blog and thought you might like this site, Liturgy, which also deals with inclusive language.

Oh and the by the way, the Unitarian hymnal is a rich source of inclusive language hymns.

C.W.S. said...

Welcome, Yewtree - hope you come back again and feel free to comment. I have been to that liturgy site before and have a feeling that I have linked to something there, though I can't recall what.

Yes, the Unitarians were among the first to explore inclusive language in their worship and hymnody, back in the 1960s and 70s. Twenty years ago when we were working on our project, the Unitarians were also working on their latest hymnal, Singing the Living Tradition and our executive editor was in frequent contact with the chair of their committee. They do have many new and interesting inclusive hymns in that volume, but they are under copyright, and my policy is not to use copyrighted material here on the blog.